It started when, during a long and grueling case, Donovan made the mistake of offering to fetch some coffee. The offer was for Lestrade because they were all exhausted and getting nowhere and as long as she was getting some for herself she might as well offer.
Sherlock, true to his usual form, was the first to answer, his dismissive tone implying quite clearly that fetching coffee was all she was good for, and her ability to do even that well was doubtful.
"Fetch it yourself, Freak," had been her reply, and she most certainly had no intention of bringing him back anything, not even to appease Lestrade who had given her an apologetic, entreating look when he thanked her for the offer. And that might have been that if she hadn't run into Anderson.
"What has the freak done now?" he asked, taking in her stormy expression as she began banging cups around.
"Existed," she growled. She could allow, of course, that Sherlock was helpful when it came to complicated cases. He was also insensitive and infuriating and far too happy to examine the murdered corpses of children. Sally Donovan had begun to approach each case with the assumption that it was best to keep an eye on the man near the evidence…just in case it turned out to be him.
Anderson was a good ear to complain to as Donovan grumbled about them sending the woman out for coffee (never mind that she had offered in the first place; fetching it for Sherlock somehow made the entire task demeaning) and how the freak probably felt entitled to be waited upon hand and foot while he called everyone a moron, did a dance over the evidence, and cackled gleeful over a particular resemblance between the knife wound in the little boy's gut and the wound across the little girl's thigh.
"I'd like to see him as a mutilated corpse," she finished with vengefully, "And if he thinks I'm bringing him back some coffee…well…"
"He wants some coffee?" Anderson had responded suddenly as though an idea had just occurred to him, and with a conspiring and frankly evil grin, he said, "Allow me."
"What, are you going to make it revolting or something? What are we, twelve?" But she didn't object when he shoved the third coffee awkwardly into the crook of her elbow and pushed her back towards where the others were still examining photos and going over notes.
"Isn't it obvious?" Sherlock was saying when she got back, sounding disgusted with the lot of them for not being a super human freak like he was, "Greg, Alex, Danielle, Flora, Carlos, Evan…"
"Four boys and two girls?" If Lestrade sounded slightly sarcastic in his answer, it could certainly be blamed on long nights and a particularly gruesome serial killer.
"Can't you see?" Sherlock exclaimed, grabbing the pictures of the children and switching them completely out of order, ignoring the protests that arose around him. There was a brief silence as he waited, arms folded.
"He's going by alphabet," Lestrade said at last, "But where's B?"
Donovan intruded with the coffee, handing Lestrade his first so she'd have a free hand to offer Sherlock the other. She considered, briefly, offering Anderson the final coffee she had gotten for herself as he walked into the room, but decided against it. If she hadn't gotten it for herself, it looked too much like she really had been delegated to fetching coffee.
Sherlock didn't even look at her when she put the cup in his hand; he certainly didn't seem to find it odd that she had actually complied with his demand. This was just as well; the way Sherlock could read people, if he had seen her face he probably would have never accepted it. He also didn't bother saying thank you. Lestrade had at least given her a brief nod, even if he had been distracted.
Sherlock also didn't notice the way Donovan was watching him as he held the coffee waiting for him to actually take a sip. When he finally did, it was rather anticlimactic. He didn't spit it across the room or make faces or choke on it.
Anderson didn't look disappointed though. He was still watching, waiting. Donovan went to him while Lestrade started barking orders for someone to bring him a list of missing or dead children whose names started with B. Sherlock put in it would almost certainly be a girl.
"What did you do to it?" she asked in a low whisper, wondering if Anderson had perhaps been even more evil than she had thought and slipped him a laxative.
"You remember that case a while back with the bears and the candy shop?" he asked, "The one where the manager offered us all free sweets?"
"Yeah," she said; that had been one of the more bizarre cases they had handled, the kind one would think couldn't happen in real life until it did.
"You remember how Dr. Watson grabbed the bag before Sherlock could eat any?" She did remember that, and the scolding John had given his flat mate.
"Honestly, Sherlock," he had said, "You never eat when we're out and blame it on possible contamination, and then don't know better than to accept sweets from strangers?"
"It's chocolate, John, not peppermint sticks," Sherlock had replied.
"It's mint chocolate! I'd rather you didn't break out in hives for the conclusion to this case."
"Are you allergic to mint?" Lestrade had interjected then.
"Yes, why don't we shout it to the criminal population at large! If you want to inconvenience Sherlock Holmes, slip some mint into his tea!" Then someone had mentioned having a cousin who was allergic to nuts and that was the end of the matter.
"Oh," Donovan of the present whispered, part horrified but equally gleeful, "You didn't!" Anderson smirked.
Sherlock, completely oblivious to their plotting in the corner, didn't even notice the altered taste of his coffee beyond the idea that it could have been made better. He did notice when his stomach began to hurt, but attempted to ignore it. It was just his body, after all; the work his mind was currently performing was far more important. Then the nausea came, and Lestrade was asking him if he was alright, and he tried to say fine.
He doubted Lestrade believed him when this was followed by Sherlock darting for the toilet to be sick.
He made it as far as a rubbish bin in the hallway.
Lestrade hesitated between continuing his work on the case and checking to see that Sherlock was alright.
"I'll go check on him," Donovan offered, and she and Anderson went to the hallway. She didn't know what she expected; perhaps to see Sherlock throwing up the coffee or covered in hives. That wasn't what she saw.
Sherlock was deathly white and sweating, legs sprawled across the hallway as he weakly propped himself against the wall, wheezing audibly with each gasp of air he took.
"Oh God!" she cried, shocked, and then, rather stupidly, "Are you alright?"
Sherlock didn't waste what little breath he had to answer that. He didn't even manage a glare at her stupidity. He actually looked scared.
"Call an ambulance," Lestrade said, suddenly in the hall as well, attracted by her shout.
"Right, yes, right," Donovan answered, struggling to pull out her mobile while Lestrade sat down next to Sherlock, talking softly to him. Before she could call the number, though, she heard another officer talking into their phone, giving the details.
"Better call Doctor Watson as well," he said, this to Anderson who was still hovering uselessly over them and looking a bit as though he might be sick as well.
"Right, I…I'll find his number." He ran away.
"Come on, Sherlock, just breathe, in and out, that's it," Lestrade murmured softly, as the struggle to draw in breath began to become too much. Louder, towards Donovan, he said, "Do you know what happened?"
"Sergeant Donovan, do you know what happened?" Sherlock's gasps were becoming more desperate, the fear in his eyes more pronounced, his hands grasping weakly at the cloth of his own shirt. His lips were turning blue.
"He's allergic to mint," she managed to say, avoiding his eyes. She still felt them burning her, accusing.
"Doctor Watson says to find an epipen!" Anderson yelled, bursting suddenly back into the hallway, "An injector thing! He might have one in his pocket!"
"Right," Lestrade answered, "Donovan, go meet the ambulance. Anderson, go find an epipen, check around." His voice was hard, uncompromising, and they jumped to do as he asked. His expression gentled slightly when he looked back down at the man gasping for breath.
"Sherlock, I want you to relax," Lestrade said, "I'm going to look in your pockets, alright?" Sherlock didn't look like he heard him; he looked barely conscience. Silently, Lestrade prayed, and he searched.
He didn't find an epipen. Sherlock stopped breathing.
The paramedics arrived.
It turned out the epipen had been in Sherlock's coat. Which he had removed because they were inside where it was warm. Lestrade found it afterwards when he was gathering up his things to send on to John. He sent the coat with Donovan because he had a serial killer to catch and she offered. And if he kept checking his phone for messages while they worked, nobody commented.
Anderson didn't offer, but somehow he ended up driving. The drive was silent, tense and acidic.
"It was an accident." Anderson was the first to attempt to break the silence. Donovan glared.
"It wasn't an accident," she answered.
"We didn't know he'd react like that," he pointed out, "It was an accident. They don't know how it happened."
"You think we should lie." Donovan's mouth was tight with disapproval and guilt. Anderson didn't answer. Neither spoke again for the rest of the ride.
They met John Watson in the waiting room. He was silent, his posture rigid. Donovan hadn't known what to think of him when they first met; he had seemed a bit broken, mousy. She had been afraid Sherlock was using him somehow, dragging the doctor after him like a puppy. But the longer John stayed, through several near death experiences, the more she realized that the puppy did have a bit of a bite, and that being quiet was not the same as being meek. She also knew that he cared about Sherlock. She felt rather sorry for him for it; she was almost certain the freak didn't care about him in return. And yet…there were looks that went between them.
And now she had killed the freak, and he was going to kill her. Possibly killed the freak. The paramedics had looked so frantic, shouting about stats and oxygen and anaphylactic shock. She didn't know what to say to John now. She settled on giving him Sherlock's coat.
John stared at it, clutching it tightly.
A doctor finally came out to talk to them. John sagged at his words, clutching the coat even tighter and nodded briefly. His relief was almost audible.
Somehow, all three of them were allowed into Sherlock's room. He had an oxygen mask and still looked as white as a ghost, but he was breathing on his own and his eyes were open. He still looked half dead, blinking in the way of young children who are determined to stay up past bedtime. There was a definite lightening in his expression when he caught sight of John.
"I didn't forget it, it was in my coat," were his first words, apparently anticipating what John would say. John's smile in response looked a bit forced.
"I know. Lestrade found it after you left. So what did you eat this time without looking?" Donovan couldn't stop from wincing at that. Sherlock saw. Of course he did.
"Donovan brought me a coffee," he answered, his head slightly cocked as he took all three of them in, "Anderson added a mint. No doubt they hoped to see me covered in hives or to watch me swell up." He didn't sound angry; if anything he was satisfied with himself for solving the mystery.
John spun to look at them, his eyes wide. Whatever their expressions were, they must have looked guilty to him because his eyes narrowed. For the first time, Donovan remembered the stories about him being ex-army. He didn't look like Sherlock's weak side kick now; he looked dangerous.
"It was an accident," Anderson maintained, "You never told us mint could kill you."
"You knew he was allergic." John's voice was low, quiet, tense. He gave the impression of a silent but deadly viper poised to bite. "You knew he was allergic and you gave him some mint. For a laugh."
They didn't answer.
"He could have died." His voice broke a bit at the end and Donovan found herself swallowing back tears.
"Really, John," Sherlock murmured from the bed, moving the oxygen mask in annoyance at the way it clung to his face, "I'm fine." John deftly moved the mask back in place and when Sherlock discontentedly continued to fuss at it he took his hand in his.
There was something private about the scene, something gentle and delicate that made the other two seem blunderous intruders. Donovan wondered, for perhaps the hundredth time, if the two were sleeping together. Then John turned to look at them again, all sharp edges and venom.
"Don't kill them," Sherlock murmured, "They are adequate at what they do." Which was to say they were good at their jobs, but no Sherlock Holmes. "Anyway, Lestrade seems fond of them."
"Go to sleep, Sherlock," John answered, and Sherlock's eyes slid shut. The room grew quiet except for the general sounds of the hospital. John still held Sherlock's hand and his coat. Donovan and Anderson still stood in the room as well, wanting to leave but feeling, somehow, as though they needed to be dismissed first. This went on for a good five minutes. Long enough for John to see that Sherlock really was asleep. To see that he was alive, heart beating and lungs working and his brain none the worse for oxygen starvation.
Then he turned and led them out of the room.
He didn't kill them. He didn't even shout. He quietly, and simply told tore their characters to shreds.
When Donovan finally got around to calling Lestrade and filling him in on Sherlock's condition, she sounded weepy enough that Lestrade feared the worst before she was able to reassure him. Then she returned to help catch a killer. A task made more difficult because the man Lestrade had consulted for help in the case was now laid up in the hospital.
Lestrade never asked how Sherlock came to ingest some mint. He also never asked why Donovan had been crying or why Anderson suddenly had a black eye.
The body of a child named Bethany turned out to be the killer's mistake that led them to him, just in time to save Hope from the other children's fate. Sherlock was quite annoyed when John didn't let him go to see the case's conclusion.
Two months later, Sherlock was in top form when he decided he needed to taste someone's wallet (to see if it tasted of lemons, which would have meant it belonged to the arsonist they were hunting). It didn't taste of lemons, but it did turn out it had been kept in a purse with some mints.
"John," Sherlock managed to say as he broke out in hives and began to wheeze, "I might have left the epipen in my other pocket."
Before John could pull out the one he always had on him, he had three more thrust in his direction. Sherlock pouted when they still made him go to the hospital. And Donovan felt oddly good, almost liberated in a way, that it was her epipen the doctor had accepted.
He was still a freak. But she was glad he wasn't dead.